Houston Matters

What’s Happening in the World of Nanotechnology in Houston?

You may have heard about scientists working on developing a camera so tiny that doctors could have patients swallow it like a pill. Or special fabrics lines with particles that repel stains. Those are just two examples of nanotechnology – a combination of science, engineering and technology happening at the teeny, tiny nanoscale, about 1 […]

You may have heard about scientists working on developing a camera so tiny that doctors could have patients swallow it like a pill. Or special fabrics lines with particles that repel stains. Those are just two examples of nanotechnology – a combination of science, engineering and technology happening at the teeny, tiny nanoscale, about 1 to 100 nanometers. But how small is a nanometer? For the sake of context, a millimeter – that tiniest of measurements on a ruler – is composed of one MILLION nanometers.

Needless to say, nanotechnology is impossible to see with the naked eye. But even if it’s impossible to see, there is plenty of research and development regarding nanotechnology happening in Houston. For example: Rice University’s Richard Smalley received a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1996 to honor his research (with two other scientists) into something called graphene tubes. These tubes have conductive properties that can be used in cell phone screens or in certain types of batteries.

In a moment we’ll hear from the man continuing Smalley’s work at Rice, Professor Jim Tour, but first we pay a visit to the University of Houston where a physics professor has turned his research into a company (audio above).

Then we hear from James Tour, the Chao Professor of Chemistry at Rice University. Tour sat down with Houston Matters producer Edel Howlin to discuss some of the things they’re looking at in the labs of Rice, beginning with something called a nanocar.

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